The sphere began to change colour, from silver to blue-green—the colours of the earth—so that it now resembled the kind of model you’d find in a geography classroom. The crew stared, not daring to shift their eyes away from the orb.
It pulsed once, emitting a white haze, which enveloped it like atmosphere. The beams issuing from its centre veered away and converged to form a single glowing disk in space, reminiscent of the sun.
For a moment nothing moved. It was as if someone had pressed the pause button on a DVD player, interrupting a scene from a movie.
A loud crackling sound finally issued from the disk and a long tongue of flame flicked out from it and consumed the earth-like orb, causing it to fade to a brownish-grey colour, as if charred by heat.
And all at once, the spectacle was over. The crackling stopped, the light vanished, and the orb faded to black, but in that split second before the light fled, Jack could have sworn he saw a red scarab replace the glowing disk of the sun, before it too was consumed by the flames.